Successful Students Ready for the 21st Century – First Report

Education 2010’s third dialogue of its three-part series is well underway.  The title says it all, “Successful Students Ready for the 21st Century.” The dialogue, co-sponsored by Hartford City council Majority Leader rJo Winch and The Scheff Movement, will take place on wednesday, March 31, 2010, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, in the Council Chambers of Hartford’s City Hall, 550 Main Street, Hartford. Admission is free and open to the general public.

Education 2010 began it’s  three-part series in January across the street from Hartford’s City Hall at the public library main branch.  Hartford was chosen as the site to launch this series because of its historical significance in that it is the home to the nation’s oldest public art museum (Wadsworth Atheneum), the oldest public park (Bushnell Park), the oldest continuously published newspaper (The Hartford Courant), and the second-oldest secondary school (Hartford Public).

The goal is to bring the village together to have a substantive dialogue on critical issues that lead to substantive and sustainable action.  A diverse team of distinguished panelists have been solicited to facilitate the discussions. This First Report highlights three of our panelists as noted below.  We will continue to highlight additional panelists in each report.

Elizabeth Horton Sheff , founder of The Sheff Movement Coalition, will focus on the issue of “Does Race Matter.”  “In 1989 … Elizabeth Horton Sheff joined with others and began a long and arduous journey to redress the inequity between the level of education provided to students in Hartford public schools and that available to children in surrounding suburban districts.” [.…] Their lawsuit claimed, “that Connecticut’s system of separate city and suburban school districts led to racially segregated schools and a violation of their children’s rights to equal opportunity.” Plaintiffs’ won their initial law suit in 1996 but the court left the physical remedy up to the state’s legislature.  In 2008, a settlement was reached that , “calls for greater coordination of regional magnets and choice programs, … 80% of Hartford parents seeking to send their children to an integrated school will be accommodated.” [Full settlement]

James M. Boucher, director of the Future Workforce Division at Capital Workforce Partners, will discuss “Workforce Development.” Jim, a Hartford resident, has long been involved in community organizing and seeking substantive change through united community efforts.  His passion for social justice began after graduating from the College of the Holy Cross and deciding to enter VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) in Toldeo, Ohio.  He was able to learn how to make a difference through organizing in Toledo; and further in Detroit — where he met “some fiesty, tenacious and passionate community organizers and community leaders” that”lead me eventually to Hartford for more of the same.” Jim has and continues to spend his time in developing new leaders, improving communities through job opportunities, affordable housing and quality education.  Jim is also assistant majority leader of Hartford’s City Council and is chairman of the Council’s education committee.

Paul Diego Holzer, Education Programs director of Achieve Hartford!, will focus on “Fixing Broken Schools.” Paul is a recent MBA graduate of the Yale School of Management, where he focused on management issues in the field of Education. Prior to Yale, Paul was Director of Higher Education  at the Latin American Youth Center, Washington DC’s leading youth development organization – where he directed a TRiO Upward Bound program and 3 other college preparatory programs targeting “first-generation” students.  He was responsible for managing program budgets, grant writing, community fundraising, training and leadership development, and presenting regionally and nationally on innovation within youth development programs. Paul is also a founding board member of the YouthBuild Public Charter School, Washington DC’s only bilingual vocational school, and a board member of the New Futures DC Scholarship Program. He taught high school English for three years in Washington DC with both American and Ecuadorian heritage.  Paul has a special interest in how underrepresented minority youth become more powerful stakeholders in the American system of education.

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